Eat to Live (ETL) #1: The Beginning

This is a bit of a departure from my regular blog posts – touching on something personal for a change ;-).  I haven’t been feeling well for some time now.  I have high blood pressure and suffer from frequent migraines.  And over the past four or five years I’ve put on more weight than I like – quite a bit more.  So I was interested when my boss mentioned the new diet he had begun – and begun quite successfully, losing 16 pounds in about a month. After querying him about the plan my interest devolved into a detached, ‘good for you, that’s great’ level; for myself the regimen sounded way too strict!  My boss didn’t proselytize about the diet, he wasn’t out to convert anyone he just wanted to lose weight and more importantly become healthier.  And it was the talk about lowered cholesterol and blood pressure that made me decide to take a look for myself. So last week I purchased a Kindle copy of Eat to Live, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  I read it in two days, two days during which I was suffering from a migraine and during which time I had tried on clothing at the Goodwill (hard to avoid mirrors in a dressing room) with an eye to adding to my ‘classroom’ wardrobe.  I was feeling down and disheartened and my blood pressure was 146/96 (high).  I was ready to make a change.

I won’t do the plan or book justice if I try and explain it in a blog post – I recommend you check it out of the library or head over to www.DrFuhrman.com to get all the details. There is a plethora of information packed into the book and it’s backed by scientific studies.  Basically the Eat to Live plan isn’t so much a ‘diet’ as a change in your relationship with food.  You don’t count calories or limit portions – instead you pack as much nutrition into every calorie you ingest as you can.  That means empty calories have to go – that’s your junk food and candy.  Foods with a lot of calories and limited nutrition have to go too, leaving you with foods that are low in calories and PACKED in nutrition.  You’ve probably guessed that means leafy greens, veggies and beans make up most of your food intake.  These foods have the highest nutrient density and the most fiber – both elements of a healthy diet.  In addition the phytochemicals in leafy greens and veggies help to protect us against cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

The sometimes dense scientific and medical information in the book is broken up with multiple case studies highlighting the success stories of people who have tried this plan – people who have lost (and kept off) a great deal of weight, who’ve seen their high blood pressure or diabetes controlled by diet alone, people who no longer have insomnia, migraines, autoimmune disorders and more.  It is compelling enough to me that I am embarking on the six week initial phase of the plan (started on Monday September 2) and I plan to take you along with me in weekly updates (so if after reading the book you are on the fence you can wait and see how I do).  I promise I won’t leave out any of the tough stuff.  Stay tuned!

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4 Responses to Eat to Live (ETL) #1: The Beginning

  1. Pennie says:

    I always enjoy checking in to see how you and your family are getting along–I’ve followed your blog for some time, and applaud your tenacity and intelligence.
    My 35 year old daughter has followed the ETL program on and off for about 5-7 years now–she swears that her sinus congestion, bladder infection and depression struggles are all in good control when she is actively eating ETL. Her weight drops dramatically, by 50 pounds or more each time she has returned to this philosophy of eating. At times she becomes very thin. Her struggle (as I see them) has been in staying on the program consistently, and in striking a healthy maintenance balance, as this way of eating can be a real challenge to integrate into her family meals (and when working and traveling). She has a green smoothie in the morning, but is a busy professional and so basically doesn’t eat much during the day, then has a HUGE salad topped with beans at night. She doesn’t eat what she cooks her family, or necessarily eat when her family is eating, so there is some disharmony and a certain mixed message delivered to my grandchildren about food.
    I am a nurse (as is my daughter), and appreciate the connection between a healthy lifestyle and its positive impact on factors such as hypertension, joint and heart health, diabetes, etc., but personal experience through my daughter’s struggles leave me less than a fan of Furhman’s plan than some folks.
    Take care of yourself, and I wish you continued success in all things.

  2. Tabi says:

    Wow, I’m so amazed and relieved that you’re finally trying this. As I watched you buy farm animals I felt disappointed, but consoled myself that at least you would have fresh foods. I have been eating the Fuhrman way for at least 5 years. In my small college town, we have a business which cooks a week’s worth of meals, 9 different dishes, which you pick up every Monday; they specifically refer to Dr. Fuhrman as the main inspiration. The professional chefs make imaginative meals with foods I never heard of and would probably botch if I tried the recipes on my own. I couldn’t have stuck with this diet without this service. At first I actually gained weight since I was eating every bite and didn’t have to worry about meal planning or cooking or clean-up; my weight is much lower now. But my motivation was always and only better health.
    While it has solved/eliminated some of my health problems , other sensitivity issues continue. (Many health food recipes start with onions and garlic, 2 problem foods for me) But I feel strongly that this diet has kept the rest of me healthier, and without it I would be much more uncomfortable. I went to a nutritionist 2 years ago and he told me that I had the most ideal diet and that whatever was causing my physical complains, it wasn’t the food I do eat, though not eating this diet would make me worse.
    One note about Fuhrman’s book and tv appearances: I didn’t actually read his books or research his work until I’d been eating the diet (through the take-out service) for years. I must say, I probably wouldn’t have tried it if I only knew him through his publicity. The book seems to have a MIRACLE! on every other page. When I saw him on Dr. Oz, I thought he came across as nutty in his claim that if you stick to his diet, you will never be sick again. Good diet is the basis for good health, but it won’t solve/prevent every problem for every person. You’ll just have to try it and see, then tweak it.
    I’m very excited for you. You are on the right path. I hope you don’t find it too difficult to find the best ingredients and that you get support from the family. It is a basic way of eating and should be easy with access to fresh whole foods.

  3. jeannette says:

    I drink two green smoothies a day, I load these babies up with mostly spinach, and then add any of the following, kale, bananas, any kind of fruit, sometimes a carrot or two. This is now addicting to me, almost to the point that when I went away last year I seriously considered taken my smoothie maker with me in my luggage. Imagine my surprise when at the breakfast bar one of the workers offered to make me a green smoothie, (they made mango ones but that didn’t appeal to me) This past two weeks I decided to start adding ginger and turmeric to the smoothie. (small doses) This is suppose to help with lowering cholesterol, and any inflammation which I seem to have some joint issues. AND its’ helping.
    I think its always important to research and find a plan that you enjoy, and that will not discourage otherwise it will just end up on a shelf. Good luck, and as with anything in life, baby steps.

  4. I eat very healthy food most of the time. To combat candida, I tried a diet with no processed foods – my only grain was rice, and no sugars (including fruits). I was not trying to lose weight, and ate as much as I wanted. In three months I lost 20 pounds. I am wanting to lose some weight and have thought about going back to that. I keep hoping that eating less sugar and carbs will help, but it doesn’t seem to.

    Good luck.

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